As I sit here on a Sunday morning, sipping my coffee, watching Wimbledon, I think back to all the things I have I left unfinished over the years because I just wasn't that good at them. I wasn't bad...but I wasn't great. I am the epitome of 'jack of all trades, master of none.' And quite frankly...that really pisses me off.
As a kid, I was a pretty good tennis player. I could rally with the best of them. But my serve, well...that sucked. You can't be a great tennis player if you serve like a 5 year old (unless, of course, you're a 3 year old). I could teach you how to serve; I just couldn't actually demonstrate it. When I was in college, I decided to stay there over the summer breaks. Aside from working on campus, I got a job with Parks and Rec as their tennis instructor. How I pulled that one off is beyond me. Actually, I know how I pulled it off...they never asked for my credentials. All I had to do was tell them I knew how to play and presto! Had the job. Obviously they didn't see too many tennis pros coming through their doors. When I took my first group of suckers, oops, sorry…novices, to the courts, I showed them all the basics of tennis. That was easy since I had been playing for over 15 years at that point. When it came to the serve, I was able to talk them through the technique; kind of a ‘tell’ without the ‘show’, but then they asked me to actually serve. [Like with a real ball?] Not wanting to embarrass myself, I told them I had a bad shoulder and didn't want to injure it any more by lifting my arm. Did they not notice that I lifted my arm as I was explaining it? Did they think the ball would be too heavy to actually throw it up in the air? Whatever they believed…they didn’t question it, so each week, I had a new ailment. It's amazing to me that no one caught on to my charade. But I managed to make it through the entire summer with no one ever catching on. Maybe I should have gone into politics?
Drawing is another half-assed talent I have. I can look at a picture or object and then draw it on paper. As a kid, I decorated many things with my favorite cartoon characters. I'm an expert at Tweety-Pie. I had a bulletin board that I drew characters all around the frame. I was so proud of that. I had Tweety and Bugs and Daffy and Sylvester, but when I left for college, my mom decided I didn't need my bulletin board anymore and got rid of it. I remember coming home during one break to find quite a few things missing from my childhood, because she thought I didn't need or want them anymore. Really? That was one of my most favorite accomplished pieces of artwork I ever did...gone. But I gave up on my drawing because I couldn't create...I could only copy. It's not very satisfying when you can't create something on paper but you see it in your head. In fact it's downright frustrating. So...my tendency...give it up. My lack of patience abounds. If I can't perfect it right away...don't bother to persevere...just give up. Great words to live by, right? Nope. Thank god I didn't impart that on my children. In fact, I made sure I taught them to do as I say, not as I do.
Photography was also something I tinkered with. I thought I was pretty good until I took a class and realized how much I didn't know; lens speed and F-stop and aperture…really? I don’t think so. Point and click. That’s all I needed to know. So naturally, knowing I would have to sit in a classroom for too many hours over too many weeks, I gave that up, also. After 16 years of schooling, I realized how much I hate learning. Well...I don't hate learning, per se...I just can't stand sitting in an organized environment and having to concentrate at somebody else's pace. I love learning on my own, at my own pace. Then it's not like it's really learning but it's knowledge absorption without realizing you are actually soaking it all in. I try to trick my mind and so far, so good. I'm pretty gullible, so I believe my own bullshit. A self guided tour; trial and error...that's the way for me to learn. So I took decent pictures kinda…if you didn’t mind out-of-focus, in the dark, heads cut off. Since everything is automatic now...I didn't waste my time learning things I never would have used in the future. Pretty incredible forward thinking on my part, I think.
I took piano lessons when I was about 10 years old. I think I may have lasted about a year but when I wasn't playing Mozart's Requiem Mass in D minor by then, I decided to call that quits, too. I took it up again in my 30's thinking maybe I would have a little more patience. That time I lasted 6 weeks. I decided that piano teachers didn't really understand the mind of an impatient musician. We don't want to learn the fundamentals of music. We don't want to learn to read music. Show us what keys to place our fingers on for the songs we want to learn...and we are good to go. For some reason my piano teacher took offense to that and dropped me as his student. Therefore, I can't count that as me quitting since he was the one to end that relationship. And then I got an instruction booklet that matched letters to keys...'Play by letters', so to speak…so I guess you could say that made me a musician? No? But I was playing, so…yes?
I also dabbled with the violin in 4th grade, and only because I wanted to emulate my older sister. She was pretty good. Well, she may not have been but in my mind, she was always the best at everything. Have you ever heard someone who has no idea what they’re doing while playing a stringed instrument? I, myself, tried pressing my hands as hard as I could to cover my ears to block out the sound…and I was the one playing. Violin lessons lasted two whole weeks. I decided when the neighborhood dogs started howling while I was playing, that wasn’t a good sign.
I also experimented with the guitar and ukulele. I have to say...I was pretty impressive with my rendition of the Hukilau song on the Uke. OK…that about covers the extent of my talent on those two instruments. Learn to play the Hukilau in one easy lesson. That should be the mission statement for learning every instrument…One Easy Lesson.
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. At 14, I started keeping a diary every day. I wanted to chronicle my summer journey across country. I kept writing in my journal on a daily basis ever since then. I’ve always loved writing [obviously], but when I look back to some of the crap I wrote in college for my writing courses, I wonder how the hell my professors thought that was “A” work. I wonder how I thought that it was any good. In fact, I look at some of my past blogs and still wonder…..
So there you have it. I never achieved Steffi Graf status in tennis, I’ll never paint like Georgia O’Keeffe, I’ll never play the violin like Itzhak Perlman, Schroeder far outperforms me on piano, Annie Leibovitz will always capture a better image than I can, but one thing I know for sure, with 100% certainty, as far as writing goes, I WILL definitely be the next………